Sony expands Chinese game incubator in Microsoft face to face

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HONG KONG — Sony Group Corp said it plans to expand a program to identify and incubate games made in China, in a race with Microsoft Corp to tap China’s gaming market.

Bao Pu, director of Sony’s game production in China, said the program would invest more than one million yuan ($140,080) in each game it scores, funding not only small teams but also large teams with a dozen or more engineers.

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The Japanese tech giant’s plans were announced during an event live-streamed Tuesday from the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu to restart the China Hero project, which was halted due to COVID. – 19.

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“The scope of the third phase will far exceed the previous two,” Bao said, adding that Sony will publish some games and its PlayStation studios will support registered projects.

Sony has announced that it will be the publisher of Lost Soul Aside and Convallaria, two games signed in the previous two phases.

The China Hero Project unveiled its first two batches of games in 2017 and 2019 and supported 17 games, seven of which hit the market.

Bao told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that the new batch aims to include 10 or more titles and welcomes all kinds of games.

It’s Sony’s latest move in several years in China, which eventually led to a lucrative exclusive deal with China Hero Project’s hit Chinese game “Genshin Impact.” It was little known before it launched in 2019 and became one of the highest grossing games in the world.

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Reuters reported last month that Sony’s success with “Genshin Impact” prompted Microsoft to aggressively court Chinese game developers with large licensing deals.

To accelerate its expansion, Sony announced that it has formed a “China Game Production” team to oversee games made in China. The Shanghai subsidiary of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), which specializes in games, employs more than 100 people after entering China in 2014.

The success of Genshin Impact has convinced Sony’s management that Chinese games are important, said Tatsuo Eguchi, president of SIE Shanghai, adding that Sony is devoting more resources to them than ever before. He also said that Sony’s partnership with Genshin Impact developer miHoYO is growing stronger.

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Sony sells PlayStation (PS) consoles in China, where people traditionally prefer to play mobile games.

It has sold over 3.5 million PS4 consoles in China, and SIE CEO Jim Ryan said it has sold around 670,000 PS5 units there since its launch in China in May 2021. The goal for Sony is to sell twice as many PS5′ ere, Eguchi said. As was the case with the PS4, and I believe Project China Hero can help achieve this goal.

“We want gamers around the world to better understand the creativity that comes from China. I have always dreamed that console games would become an integral part of Chinese people’s daily entertainment. ($1 = CNY 7.1388) (Reporting by Josh Yee; Editing by Alexander Smith and Louise Heavens)

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